1820 Capped Head Left Half Eagle. BD-8. Rarity-7+. Curved-Base 2, Small Letters. MS-64 (PCGS). CAC. CMQ.This beautiful Choice Mint State 1820 half eagle represents a formidable rarity in the challenging early half eagle series. Handsome honey-gold color on both sides adds to the appeal of a lively frosty finish, with blushes of iridescent rose-gold toning more prevalent on the reverse. Smartly impressed with overall full definition, the surfaces are pleasingly smooth. BD Die State b/c.
The Curved-Base 2 varieties are rarer than the Square-Base 2 die marriages of the 1820-dated half eagle issue. The most available of the former is the BD-5 and that is still a Rarity-6 attribution. Even here there is an important subdivision in varieties; three reverse dies bear large letters, with the other two utilizing a small letter logotype. One of the key distinguishing marks of the BD-8 is the placement of Libertys lowest curl principally over the digit 0 in the date - the sole use for this die. Even though more than a quarter million half eagles were struck in 1820, only 6,000 to 8,000 are believed to be the BD-8 variety.
The BD-8 is a formidable rarity in numismatic circles. Indeed, Bass and Dannreuther estimate that the total number of survivors for the two Curved-Base 2, Small Letters varieties lies between 10 and 16. For the BD-8, this can be further reduced to only five confirmed specimens:
1 - <strong>MS-64 (PCGS). CAC. CMQ</strong>. Ex Max Mehl; C.F. Childs; our (Bowers and Merenas) sale of Walter H. Childs Collection, August 1999, lot 706; Heritages sale of the Harvey B. Jacobson, Jr., Collection, January 2012 FUN Signature Auction, lot 4672. <em><strong>The present example</strong></em>, and the finest confirmed for the die variety.
2 - <strong>MS-63 (PCGS).</strong> Ex Paramounts Davies/Niewoehner Collection sale, February 1975, lot 554; Stanley I. Kesselman, August 24, 1978; Harry W. Bass, Jr. Foundation Collection (HBCC# 3138); Heritages sale of the Harry W. Bass, Jr. Core Collection, Part IV, August 2023, lot 9053.
3 - <strong>MS-62 (PCGS).</strong> Ex our Stacks sale of the Gaston DiBello Collection, May 1970, lot 833; our (Stacks) sale of the Robison Collection, February 1979, lot 355; our sale of the Blue Moon Collection, Part I, March 2017 Baltimore Auction, lot 2329.
4 - <strong>MS-61 (PCGS).</strong> Ex our (Stacks) sale of the Dr. Conway A. Bolt Collection, April 1966, lot 917; our (Stacks) Metro Sale of May 1971, lot 1384; our (Bowers and Merenas) sale of the Harry W. Bass, Jr. Collection, Part IV, November 2000, lot 324.
5 - <strong>Mint State.</strong> Ex Clifford T. Weihman, via Stacks; Josiah K. Lilly, Jr., via Stacks; Lilly estate; National Numismatic Collection in the Smithsonian Institution.
Lot 186 in B. Max Mehls May 1922 sale of the James Ten Eyck Collection also included an example of this variety, possibly a sixth specimen, or possibly another appearance of one of the foregoing.
For those who specialize in early half eagle die varieties, our offering of the finest known 1820 BD-8 half eagle could very well be a once in a generation opportunity to add this spectacular rarity to a world class cabinet.PCGS# 8126. NGC ID: 25PU.Ex B. Max Mehl, May 29, 1944; C.F. Childs; our (Bowers and Merenas) sale of the Walter H. Childs Collection, August 1999, lot 706; Heritages sale of the Harvey B. Jacobson, Jr. Collection, January 2012 FUN Signature Auction, lot 4672.